The No. 13 Lady Blues (22-3, 16-3) defeated Pittsburg State (12-13, 10-8) 80-45 on Saturday’s Senior Night in Lee Arena, setting up a high-stakes game against rival Emporia State Wednesday night in Emporia that will decide which team will be the No. 1 seed in the MIAA tournament.
Junior guard Hope Gregory led the team with 16 points and eight rebounds, with senior forward Dayna Rodriguez scoring 15 and grabbing eight board of her own, and two other players – freshman St. Mary’s product Laura Kinderknecht and sophomore center Cassie Lombardino – scoring 10 apiece, a career high for Lombardino. Maya Onikute led Pittsburg State with eight points.
Rodriguez’s fellow seniors Brette Ulsaker and Rose Hammond scored seven and eight points, respectively, with Amanda Fessenden being the only senior not to score. Fessenden was 0-6 from the field, including 0-3 from three, but did chip in two steals and two rebounds. Hammond had a team-high five steals, with Ulsaker chipping in three of her own.
While the Lady Blues had a comfortable first half lead of 24-13, it wasn’t until the second half that they really let lose on the Lady Gorillas. Washburn shot 61.1 percent from the field in the second half (compared to 32.3 percent in the first half), and shot 50 percent from behind the three-point line, hitting 4-8 (compared to 2-10 in the first half). Even the free throw percentage improved in the second half for the Lady Blues, jumping from a lowly 50 percent to 88.9 percent. The massive improvement in shooting accuracy led to a surreal 56-32 second half run for Washburn.
Following the game, the four seniors were recognized along with their parents.